tidings of joy

December 18th, 2016

When I was a junior in college, Mother decided to compile a book of recipes featuring family favorites. It took her nearly a year, typing it out on a typewriter at the kitchen table. She heartily welcomed suggestions from her devoted eaters, and when it was finished, she xeroxed four copies and assembled them into loose leaf notebooks. There are only four copies, one for each of her children.

I have a cookbook collection of more than 500 books, but the only one I ever reference is the one Mother wrote. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a taste of the past and nothing delivers that as divinely as something Mother once made. My copy, unfortunately, is rarely in the same location as I am and I have to contact a sibling for an occasional memory jog.

My Christmas in Russia in 2000 was a memorable one. I prepared a four course feast for my landlady and her family, featuring Mother’s Seafood Gumbo. Of course I didn’t have the family recipe book with me, and spent a small fortune telephoning my younger brother’s wife in Virginia to get the recipe. The required seafood wasn’t available, so I used smoked duck, and my dear guests seemed to enjoy this foreign taste from Cajun Country.

This Christmas, I decided to make a treat for the folks I work with, and choose a ginger cookie from Mother’s Recipe Book, which of course is not with me here in Illinois. My sister came to the rescue with the recipe and two days of baking yielded 120 perfect little cookies; bagged, tagged and beribboned.

Thank-you, Mom!

Stratford Hall Ginger Cookies

Stratford Hall Ginger Cookies

Related Recipes

Stratford Hall Ginger Cookies

Makes five dozen cookies.

1 1/2 cups butter, melted
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
granulated sugar (for coating balls of dough)

  1. Sift or whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together melted butter, molasses and sugar.
  3. Add eggs and mix until combined.
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until all flour is incorporated.
  5. Refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Roll walnut-sized balls of dough in granulated sugar.
  8. Place on parchment covered baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, or until set and lightly browned.
  9. Cool completely on a rack.
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